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Traversant Group Top 5: NASCIO State CIO Survey

|October 27, 2021|

The NASCIO State CIO Survey is a great resource in understanding the breadth of technology challenges and goals in the United States. Across the board, the greatest need for State CIOs in this year’s survey was improving the digital citizen experience. CIOs recognize the need for low-code or no-code technologies in order to keep up with modernization efforts. There is also a push towards making the buying, use, and adoption of new technology easier for all parties.

Below are Traversant Group’s Top 5 Takeaways from the NASCIO State CIO Survey.

1 – Unification Around Online Experiences is Key

By far the strongest response to any survey question was that the biggest driver to expanding digital services was the need for “better online experiences for citizens.” 74% of CIOs selected this response as compared to ten percent or less for all other options. However, this does not just apply to citizens. 85% of State CIOs expected work-from-home practices to stay, along with a continued focus on enhanced security and fraud detection, and deployment of additional web-enabled and external services. The State CIOs are putting citizens first and working to make the lives of citizens easier.

AZ Note: In Arizona, the largest state agency budget requests for FY 2022 were for Digitization and Online Services ($9.2M), followed by Enterprise Applications ($8.4M). These requests were for areas of focus as simple as increasing access to information online to increasing online payment options.

2 – Procurement Process Changes are Here to Stay

The pandemic caused changes in every aspect of government, including procurement. The need to get new solutions approved, purchased, and enacted showed CIOs the power of modernized procurement efforts. CIOs cited a several they are planning to keep including:

  • Pre-approved vendor pools
  • Master contracts
  • Increased use of cooperative agreements
  • Digitization and automation of procurement processes and procedures
  • Streamlining of approvals and rapid purchasing

AZ Note: In 2020 alone, there was a 250% increase in the use of the Statewide PIJ and Strategic Planning Platform meaning that more agencies are taking advantage of the streamlined IT approval process. ADOA’s stated goal is to “make decisions at the speed of business and drive efficiencies and economies of scale.” While we have not seen any state procurement process changes, Arizona continues to leverage multi-vendor agreements and cooperative contracts.

3 - Legacy Modernization Remains an Ongoing Effort, Despite Constraints

Despite the changes in procurement processes, “almost no CIOs reported any permanent changes in their procurement authority or processes, and 82 % of CIOs reported no increases in budget to address new or increased remote work needs.” This tension was reiterated in the CIO responses around legacy systems. Increasing the priority and investment in legacy modernization remained the 5th highest top priority. These systems are out of date, are not meeting business needs, and, in some cases, are open to long-standing vulnerabilities. 71% of states said they are moving to low-code or no-code technologies as part of its legacy system modernization strategy. Aligning with these goals and showing the impact of modernization will remain key in assisting states.

AZ Note: ASET has listed “Budget Constraints” as the Top IT Challenge Year-Over-Year in its FY 2022 IT Strategic Plan Summary. This has largely been due to the increasing cost of IT and lack of funding to implement new technology or hire IT support staff. In terms of legacy system modernization, Arizona agencies have an eye on the future. The Department of Economic Security is replacing its Child Support and Enforcement system and will soon be releasing an RFP to replace its Unemployment Insurance Benefits system. The Department of Administration also released its HRIS Modernization RFP, and the Department of Revenue has signaled in its FY23 budget request that the replacement of the state’s integrated tax system is on the horizon.

4 – States are Trying New Technologies, and Keeping Them

The adoption of emerging technologies accelerated in response to the pandemic. State CIOs mentioned they have seen “concrete evidence that technology is expected by the general public and important for communicating and engaging at scale.” The Top 5 automation solutions and emerging technologies CIOs believe are here to stay are:

  • Chatbots (virtual agents) for online citizen service inquiries
  • Automated fraud detection using predictive analytics
  • Voicebots to support call center interactions
  • Robotic process automation (RPA) to streamline business processes
  • Pandemic-related mobile apps for contact tracing/exposure notification

AZ Note: In the FY 2022 Summary, ASET found that 13 agencies documented 22 goals identifying the need to automate manual processes and 33 goals around process automation to digitize and go paperless. State agencies continue to explore the use of virtual agents and voicebots. The Department of Economic Security also leveraged automated fraud detection tools in connection with unemployment insurance claims during the pandemic.

5 – The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

While the responses NASCIO received in response to its question “What emerging IT area will be most impactful in the next 3-5 years?” changed dramatically, the responses regarding how to deploy emerging technology stayed the same. 76% of respondents said the preferred way to deploy emerging technology was through pilot initiatives among agencies, followed by vendor demonstrations and showcases, establishing innovation centers, and providing innovation funding to agencies. However, CIOs were clearly paying attention to the emerging technology space. Low-code and no-code solutions were listed as the top selection of the emerging IT area, followed by AI and machine learning, mass personalization, robotic process automation, and IoT. Showing agency CIOs how these tools can be incorporated into their strategic IT plans, cloud strategies, and modernization efforts shows you are aligned with their agency goals.

AZ Note: For Arizona, cybersecurity and improving the citizen experience remain the top IT areas. ADOA’s Enterprise Security Program was highlighted as a Notable IT Project for its expansion of security controls and functionality, along with DHS’ Electronic Case Reporting (eCR) project, focused on automating public health case reporting.

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